From the Archive: Cliffhanger and Sliver

Ah, yes, the home video segment. How very early nineties. Wasn’t that a time? Within a few months, this was sort of a filler segment on the show as we were invariably writing about films we’d already covered previously, and we didn’t necessarily have something new and riveting to add. The main servicing to previous reviews was a consideration of how something might play better or worse on the television screen, then much smaller and squarer, of course. Usually, we each covered one movie new to video. I’m not sure why I doubled up here. We must have had a … Continue reading From the Archive: Cliffhanger and Sliver

Brooks, Hansen-Løve, Noyce, Polanski, Teshigahara

The Quiet American (Phillip Noyce, 2002). Occasionally there will be a movie that adheres to a classic narrative structure that is also stolid, humorless and painfully dull that a small but vocal bundle of critics will tout as a dwindling example of cinematic material created for adults. I get that full-time critics were spending the end of 2002 gritting their teeth and covering their eyes while watching supposed comedies and franchise-killing sequels, but they still needed to grade on a helluva curve to find nice things to say about this dire adaptation of the Graham Greene novel. Michael Caine received … Continue reading Brooks, Hansen-Løve, Noyce, Polanski, Teshigahara

C.K., Gluck, Hitchcock, Yates

Louis C.K.: Hilarious (Louis C.K., 2010). It’s probably too much to ask that a stand-up comedy concert film reach the artistic peaks of the only example of the form that can reasonably by called cinematic art. There are limitations built right into filming a comedian on stage and too much effort to compensate for them just leads to undue fuss. Better then to be as unadorned as possible and count on the material to make the endeavor worthwhile. C.K. brings the same dedicated understatement to his directing work that shapes his darkly brilliant FX series. Luckily, C.K. is near the … Continue reading C.K., Gluck, Hitchcock, Yates

Like an old late movie show, you’ve seen it all before

The Other Boleyn Girl (Justin Chadwick, 2008). Chadwick’s feature directorial debut suffers from many of the problems that make costume dramas one of the most dreaded of film sub-genres. It shoves needlessly complicated castle intrigue to the forefront in place of thoughtful plotting and intricate characterization. It is marked by static visuals that accomplish little more than sustained examination of the efforts of the costume designers and art directors. And actors emote wildly, flinging words aimlessly at one another with little apparent interest in finding depth in the language. Simply, it entirely forgoes imagination and probing details in favor of … Continue reading Like an old late movie show, you’ve seen it all before